A Second Year of Serious Cycling
2022 started with me back at it. I built up two road bikes, and started riding 5+ days a week, even traveling to Oregon for a gravel bike event. I quickly became addicted to my 10hr a week bicycling habit, and even learned how to love hill climbing. Gravel taught me I needed a different bike, so I picked-up a Squid Gravtron which I crashed a few times, losing skin with one broken rib after a gnarly one.
All told, this year was a great one. I connected with FWB (Friends with Bikes), a cycling group for marginalized genders, and even started a Tunnel Tuesday climbing group. I haven’t had this much fun with other people on bikes since I was in my early 20s. I camped in China Camp for the first time, and completed multiple 100km+ rides. In October, I packed my Canyon up for a flight to Portland, and got to ride up Tabor, Council Crest, Rocky Butte, and to Pittock Mansion. I’m not a comfortable wet-weather rider, but I’ve survived with my butt tightly clenched each time I’ve done one.
After 50 times up Tunnel road, I’m not over the sunset or the views I get from the Berkeley Hills. Mount Tam may be the prettiest climb in the bay, but the accessibility of Tunnel to Skyline or Grizzly is unbeatable. Mount Diablo is just a very exposed 2 hour nightmare.
- Distance: 8746.9km / 5,435mi
- Time: 489h 51m
- Elev gain : 93,605m / 307,103ft
- Flat tires: 2 (Tubeless life)
- Bikes purchased: 1 Litespeed T1SL, 1 Squid Gravtron, 1 Canyon Endurace
- Major climb: Mount Diablo
- Races: CX, Gravel, & Diablo hill climb
- Bike camping: 1
- FTP: 291 (Last year was 276)
With all of my bikes, I run a power meter: Quarq for the SRAM, and Stages for the one Shimano. I’m using SPD pedals for every bike besides my Litespeed, which I’ve got Speedplays on as a test. I switched from Fizik shoes to Quocs, and they suit my feet a lot better by being slightly wider. Last year I ran into an issue where my road shoes restricted my feet enough my toes would be white when I got home, which isn’t ideal. This year, no problem with blood flow.
In 2022 I spent too much money on bibs and jerseys from Veloccio, Ornot, and Albion. Doing bike laundry once every two weeks is a lot better than weekly. My gear held up well with the exception of a helmet I cracked in a crash, and a few bibs I ripped through sizing or lingering damage from the Allez Sprint’s terrible seat post bolt. Seriously, why is the bolt so sharp? It rubbed through the inside thigh of both my, and a much skinnier friend’s shorts. I tore the back of a pair of Isidore gravel bibs while in Portland too, which led strangers to ask me “do you know your butt is showing?” I can’t tell if showing hole was any more effective than a blinking rear light in preventing a car from hitting me though.
I moved to Selle Italia SLR Boost saddles from Fizik in a further bid to increase my comfort and limit chafing, with good results. A primary difference between the two was a reduction of width from 150 or 160mm to 130. Despite my ample ass, my sit bones are somewhat narrow, it seems. I’ve learned more about preferred saddle shapes, and I’ve discovered that the nose can rub my thighs raw, as well as the angle of the seat leading to comfort or wrist and hand pain. I’m told a good fitting can fix this, but it’s somewhat cost-prohibitive to fit every bike, so I’ve slowly adjusted my setups over the course of the past year. Lastly, despite their absurd price, I’ve enjoyed the Reserve Fillmore tubeless valves: easy inflation, easy pressure release for gravel, and no more sealant clogs are a great selling point. I’m still not 100% sure how you’re supposed to add sealant to them since the valve hole is narrow, and every time I try to it just makes a mess and doesn’t really get into the tube. Maybe it takes practice.
It would be dope to get any of this gear for free by being sponsored or something, but for now I pay for all of it. If you want anything I don’t use anymore and we know eachother, hit me up
What I learned
Structured training helps! Last year I rode and trained on Zwift , but this year I primarily rode outdoors. Hill climb training and a TON of base endurance miles meant a lot of pain, but a big payoff. I also read about training programs, and am somewhat convinced that polarized training is great: 80% endurance, 20% threshold. The nice thing about polarized training is I get to relax and ride at a decent pace around town and up hills, but keep my legs in good recovery shape to repeat that same thing almost every day. Then, when I push my efforts my body can take it.
A proof of my built-up endurance was the 243w I maintained for two hours climbing up Diablo. My legs felt fine the entire climb, and my pacing was focused on keeping my heart rate down and surviving the unknown. Now that I’ve climbed Diablo once, I want to go back next year and push more. I spent 80%+ of the time going up the mountain at Z3 heart rate or less, which meant I had even more to give if I’d taken things into tempo.
At this point the main thing holding me back from climbing hills fast is my weight, which is frustrating. I’ve struggled with feelings about my size for years, but got comfortable with building muscle instead of trying to be light—cycling isn’t kind about that. I don’t want to aim towards a nightmare world of diet culture and potentially hurt my body or metabolism, but if riding and eating like I want, but drinking less alcohol means my w/kg number gets higher, that’s fine. So far though my weight has stabilized around 125kg giving me a power to weight ratio of 2.3ish. I won’t be drafted into the pro peloton anytime soon, but at least I can ride where I want.
Alcohol-wise, my tolerance for drinking stays freakishly high, but I’ve noticed my next day HRV recovery falters if I drink a lot. This isn’t super surprising, but it is a good data point to keep me from pouring one more drink at 11pm. Having a motivation during the pandemic to limit my drinking is kinda nice, tbh.
Looking towards 2023
The more powerful I can get on the bike, the more relaxed I can be on tricky climbs and rides. It’s counterintuitive, but for next year the main thing I’m excited about is chill rides up hard climbs instead of the need to destroy myself to get to the top of Grizzly or make it to camp.
Speaking of camp, I’d love to do more bike camping in 2023 both in the US and in other countries if possible. My test pack and flight with my Canyon showed me it’s annoying to travel with a bike, but not impossible. A trip to Japan or Europe could be fun.
Finally, I want to do more events in California and Oregon, races and otherwise. I’m unlikely to win much of anything, but the environment around gravel, CX, and chill fondos is relaxed and upbeat. I think I can convince a few of the folks from Tunnel Tuesday to join in too. Thanks to everyone who rode with me in 2022, and especially Roland, AJ, Katrina, and Emily for encouraging me to race, and do a weekly tunnel climb.